Houston hero Mattress Mack speaks to 'GMA' about offering furniture store as shelter

Watch Mattress Mack's exclusive interview with 'Good Morning America' in the media player below.
HOUSTON -- In Houston, heroes don't wear capes. They sell mattresses.

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale is back to help the city in crisis, this time by opening his enormous north Houston furniture store as a shelter for those left without power or heat from record-breaking winter storms.

Mattress Mack spoke exclusively to Houston native and "Good Morning America" anchor Michael Strahan Thursday morning, sneaking in a shoutout to one of his favorite customers -- Strahan's mom.

"[There are] lots of people with lots of needs, and we are more than happy to open this furniture store to serve the community because that's why we exist," he said.

McIngvale previously opened Gallery Furniture, which has a generator that can power the location for several days, as a shelter after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 inundated much of Houston. He has also provided meals for people during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Matttress Mack and Alex Bregman are a superteam of generosity, and they proved it again with a heartfelt donation, seen in the video above.



On Tuesday and Wednesday, around 1,000 people came to the store for shelter each day and more than 300 people spent the night. He said this time around, people don't need to "wade through four feet of water to get there," but the disruption of routine is emotionally distressing.

"It's a tough situation, and we try to make it a little easier for them by getting them on a good Tempur-Pedic mattress, just making sure they have lots of warm food and lots of comradery here," he said.
Sheltering hundreds isn't ideal during a pandemic, but Mattress Mack said his 100,000 square feet store-turned-shelter is large enough to maintain distance. He has also made hand-sanitizing and mask-wearing mandatory.

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He said he wants to keep people well-fed and comfortable.

"We're going almost 18 hours a day feeding these people and making sure they've got things to do," he said. "We've got face painters out here, balloon artists yesterday for the kiddos. It's a task to make sure people can get their mind off the difficulty they're in and look forward to a better future tomorrow."

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ABC13 got a look at a group of students who are learning skills from carpentry, construction and welding.



He told Strahan he doesn't want to focus on blaming others during this crisis but hopes for a future where people can "come together and focus on similarities."

"One of our strengths is when adversity hits, we all tend to come together. We forget about our differences, we focus on our similarities and our commonalities, and that's what's happening in this crisis," he said. "As I was walking around last night talking to these people -- all races, all colors, all creeds, all ages -- they had that American optimism that tomorrow was going to be a better day."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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